2tablespoonscanola oil, vegetable oil or other neutral-flavored oil (olive oil will work, too)
3 ½ to 4cups(497 to 569g)all-purpose or bread flour, more or less (see note)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook or in a large bowl by hand, combine the warm water, instant yeast, sugar, oil, salt and 2 cups of the flour.
Begin mixing, and continue to add the rest of the flour gradually until the dough has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Begin kneading the dough for 4-5 minutes in a stand mixer (7-9 minutes by hand).
The dough should be soft and smooth but still slightly tacky to the touch. After a few minutes of kneading, stop the mixer and grab a small piece of dough to test if it needs more flour or not. It might leave a little bit of sticky residue on your fingers, but if you can roll it into a small ball without it sticking all over to your hands, it is good to go. If not, gradually add a bit more flour as needed.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover. Let the dough rise until doubled, 1-2 hours.
Lightly punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly greased countertop.
Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 2.75 ounces each, more or less), and form the dough into round balls (video tutorial here right at minute marker 2:20).
Place the rolls in a lightly greased 9X13-inch pan or on a large, rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment or lightly greased. Space the rolls about 1/2- to 1-inch apart.
Cover the rolls with lightly greased plastic wrap taking care not to pin the plastic wrap under the baking sheet or else the rolls will flatten while rising. Let the plastic wrap gently hang over the sides of the pan to fully cover the rolls but not press them down.
Let the rolls rise until very puffy and doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 15-17 minutes until lightly browned and cooked through.
Immediately out of the oven, brush with butter.
Yeast: when I originally posted this recipe over ten years ago, it was necessary to dissolve active dry yeast in water before using. That isn't the case anymore (as active dry yeast has been reformulated into smaller particle sizes). I've edited the recipe to reflect this. I use 1 tablespoon of yeast since I buy it in larger bulk packages, but if you are using packets of yeast (the packets include 2 1/4 teaspoons), you can use one packet for this recipe. The dough might take a bit longer to rise if using the packet vs one full tablespoon.Tips: as with all yeast doughs, make sure not to over (or under) flour the dough! I've given tips in the recipe (and here's a simple tutorial on yeast). The step-by-step pictures below the recipe are also a great visual.Tutorial: to get those perfectly shaped round balls of dough, here's a little video tutorial (minute marker 2:20).Whole Wheat Version: if you are looking for a whole wheat version of these rolls, here's the perfect fluffy whole wheat french bread roll recipe. You can also sub part of the all-purpose flour in the recipe below with whole wheat flour, if desired.Freezable Option: I almost always make a double or triple batch of these rolls. Once they are baked and cooled, I place them in a zipper-lock freezer bag and put them in the freezer. I either take them out a few hours before I need them or I take them out frozen and microwave them for about 2-3 minutes on 70% power.